Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (Indianapolis, IN)

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) believes everyone should be given the opportunity to experience nature close to home. Turning vacant lots into beautiful parks allows neighbors to take pride in their community. Last year, KIB received a grant from the Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant program, to transform a vacant lot into a pocket park in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood of Indianapolis, a neighborhood area sorely lacking greenspace and its benefits.

This project combined the efforts of neighbors from five streets partnering with Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), the Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood Association and neighborhood businesses. Bates-Hendricks leaders are committed to neighborhood renewal and to this end they launched an effort called Building Blocks.

The neighbors of Building Blocks envisioned the transformation of four adjacent vacant lots in their neighborhood into a community greenspace. They applied to KIB’s IPL Project Greenspace program, and were chosen to receive a pocket park, featuring shade and understory trees, low-maintenance landscaping and native plants, a shelter, and a designated open space for recreation.

One creative aspect of the landscaping was reusing several extremely large concrete pads that we excavated from the site’s “past life” as a utility station: these were simply too large to remove! We kept these as distinctive boundary markers on one side of the park, as a reminder of the transformation.

Community greening is one way to help empower people. With the success of this project, KIB has engaged families through greening projects, building stronger bonds with their neighbors and contributing to the vitality of their community. We look forward to working with this engaged neighborhood in the future!

Captain Planet Foundation, Atlanta GA

As a recipient of a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, the Captain Planet Foundation would like to thank KAB and Lowe’s for supporting the expansion of the Captain Planet Learning Gardens (CPLG) Program into Ventura County, Calif. elementary schools. The CPLG program is a comprehensive and innovative approach to the school garden concept that invites schools to consider their garden as an extension of the classroom. The school garden serves as a living laboratory that is embraced and utilized by the entire school community across multiple disciplines and school subjects.

The CPLG program aims to address the high obesity and low nutrition rates among under-served children, while helping them to develop a connection to nature and a sense of place in their communities. School gardens have been proven to build an ethic in students (and often times their families) for environmental stewardship — leading to a deeper understanding of the natural world and creating a desire to implement beautification efforts at school and around their communities. The CPLG program ensures that every student has an opportunity to increase their time outdoors while learning about and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables each month during the school year — building an appreciation and palate for healthy food options.

To KAB and Lowe’s — we deeply appreciate your dedication to our mission of building an educated generation of eco-visionaries and environmental change-makers. As Captain Planet says, “The Power is yours!”

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Reno, NV

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) was a recipient of a 2013 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant. KTMB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, partnered with the Lowe’s Store (#3034) located in Sparks, Nev., to provide community improvement projects located in close proximity to the store involving Lowe’s associates working side-by-side with community volunteers. The project is comprised of two KTMB’s signature programs: Adopt-A-Spot and Adopt-A-Park.

KTMB’s Adopt-A-Spot program is a grassroots roadside litter abatement program is widely popular here in the Truckee Meadows. Through the Community Improvement Grant, the Lowe’s store in Sparks adopted a stretch of road along Sparks Boulevard, a major artery road which leads directly from the city’s residential areas into Legends Shopping Center where Lowe’s is located. The road is also one of the major arteries leading to the I-80 freeway entrance/exit. A sign was installed by the City of Sparks stating that the stretch of road has been adopted by Lowe’s. Lowe’s associates coordinated with KTMB for three cleanups, and KTMB provided all the cleanup supplies (rakes, trashbags, and gloves).

The Adopt-A-Park project with Lowe’s took place at the City of Sparks’ crown jewel, the Sparks Marina, which is located in close proximity to the Lowe’s store. The picturesque Sparks Marina accommodates swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving and picnicking facilities, and breath-taking views of the nearby mountains. With a two-mile walking path, trees and sandy beaches surrounding a 77-acre lake, the Sparks Marina is a perfect setting for family fun; there were more than 350,000 visits last year alone. The Sparks Marina officially opened in 2000, and 13 years of use has taken its toll. The much-loved park has been in need of repairs as the City of Sparks has had to reduce its maintenance budget because of the economic recession. The Community Improvement Grant allowed for much-needed repairs, weed abatement and trash pick-up to occur at the Marina on KTMB’s Make a Difference Day on Saturday, Nov. 2. Tools were purchased from the Lowe’s store for the Sparks Parks and Recreation Department and for this project with grant funding. Fifty-five community and Lowe’s Heroes participated in cleanup and beautification efforts at Sparks Marina with 85 bags of Russian Thistle and other invasive weeds being collected and 10 bags of trash filled.

KTMB looks forward to an ongoing partnership with the Lowe’s store in Sparks. Thank you to Assistant Store Manager, David Berntzen, for your help and support. Thank you Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for this grant opportunity.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Tampa, FL

The Florida Learning Garden, a project of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) in partnership with the Florida State Fairgrounds, is a permanent one-acre interactive educational experience. From ‘right-plant, right-place’ to best practices for water conservation, the Florida Learning Garden educates residents on multiple growing techniques and sustainable practices to utilize in their own homes and gardens.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful was proud to partner with Lowe’s for a grant assisting with completion of several Phase II projects at the Florida Learning Garden. The garden is unique in that it reaches a wide scope of people through its accessible location and multiple community partnerships. By housing donated plants and starter seedlings in our greenhouse and storing extra tools and supplies at the garden, KTBB will continue to support the efforts of community gardens throughout the area.

So much growth has happened in the garden during the past few months, thanks to the Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant! The soil on the site lacked nutrients, so funding for mulch, garden soil, and fertilizer has been vital in creating the overall success of edible crops at the garden.

In April 2013, KTBB held a KAB National Day of Action on the site, during which 44 trees were planted. Teams of volunteers from the surrounding community and universities picked up their shovels and set to work digging, planting, mulching and watering the beautiful fruit trees to line the garden. KTBB also partnered with the Home Builder’s Institute (HBI), an organization that teaches construction skills to at-risk or previously incarcerated individuals. Part of the grant funding enabled us to purchase building supplies so that HBI volunteers could build four workbenches for the greenhouse to provide a workspace for educational programs for youth visiting the site. Kids are now able to line the tables in the greenhouse and see, touch and smell the plants, as well as plant their own seedlings to take home.

On Oct. 19, local Lowe’s Heroes volunteers came to the Florida Learning Garden to construct a gazebo and install a butterfly garden on the property. The implementation of this beautiful structure was by far one of the most creative and greatest successes at the garden so far! The addition of a second butterfly garden by another volunteer group has created a new home for a host of butterfly species, and the rainbow of native flower species has created a flourishing, inviting space for both kids and adults.

Finally, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is thrilled that our 20 grow beds are now filled to the brim with winter crop vegetables! After re-planting in October, the first batch of produce has been successfully harvested and donated to a local charity to provide nutrition for homeless teens. We are so pleased to be giving back to our community in meaningful ways, and believe this site will help create new individuals stewards for the environment in our community.

Keep Luna County Beautiful, Deming, NM

Keep Luna County Beautiful received a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s /KAB Community Improvement Grant. With the grant, Keep Luna County Beautiful was able to start an Outdoor Classroom in the community. The students were able to enjoy learning how to plant and care for a garden. Many of the students attended our cooking classes where they could learn how to use the produce they grew in very tasty meals. The students learned life skills that they could take back home and teach to their families. This has a major impact to our community due to our area being close to the border and many families have difficulty paying for fresh produce to feed their families. Thank you to Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for the opportunity to start this project in our community.

Keep Lewisville Beautiful, Lewisville Texas

There’s a new wildflower field in Lewisville courtesy of a $5,000 KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant.

During national Make a Difference Day in late October, 255 Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers worked to make Lewisville a more beautiful place to live. KLB volunteers set out at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Park to plant 1.33 acres of Texas native wildflower seeds that will bloom late next spring/early summer. Volunteers collectively spent over 510 hours preparing the soil and sowing more than 85 pounds of seeds along a field adjacent to Trotline and Lake Lewisville shoreline. Volunteers also planted more than 180 physical plants, along the field’s edges to promote growth and provide a boundary for the field and walking paths.

In addition to planting the wildflowers, volunteers also conducted a cleanup of Lake Park and the surrounding area — picking up 56 bags of trash and nine bags of recyclables. Offsite, Girl Scout service unit 406, led by Stacey Campbell, cleaned up additional community locations in conjunction with the national Make A Difference Day and Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day. An estimated 850,000 wildflowers will bloom this Spring, creating beautiful backdrop for pictures, picnics, and recreational enjoyment.

Thanks to Lowe’s corporate funding and local Lowe’s Heroes’ assistance, the City of Lewisville Parks and Leisure Services, We Plus You, Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers who helped make this project possible.

Keep Virginia Beautiful, Glen Allen, VA

Keep Virginia Beautiful’s “30 Grants in 30 Days” was a great success in 2013! Our nearly 3,000 volunteers worked tirelessly to make the 30 projects a great success, cleaning up 14,057 pounds of debris; planting 705 plants and 109 trees; and installing 25 gardens. Keep Virginia Beautiful would like to thank Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for their sponsorship of our “30 in 30″ program in 2013!

City Year Washington, D.C.

On Oct. 26, City Year Washington, D.C. organized more than 150 volunteers for Make A Difference Day. The day, a partnership with DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, was part of a series of service days this fall that have engaged hundreds of volunteers in Washington, D.C.

On Make A Difference Day, volunteers transformed the former Kenilworth Elementary School into an after-school and adult education center for the community. Volunteers painted hallways, bathrooms, and stairwells, remaking them into a chic and modern décor.

Special thanks to our service sponsors and partners: DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, Serve DC, Starbucks, DC Central Kitchen and Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s. This project was supported through a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant. (Photo by Joel Mason Gaines.)